Thursday, December 1, 2011

Call for Papers - PKD Conference in Germany November 2012

“Worlds Out of Joint: Re-Imagining Philip K. Dick”
An International Conference
15-18 November, 2012
TU Dortmund University, Germany
2012 sees the thirtieth anniversary of the untimely death, at the age of
53, of Philip K. Dick – a figure whose cultural impact within and beyond
science fiction remains difficult to overestimate. Dick’s academic and
popular reputation continues to grow, as a number of recent monographs,
several biographies and an unceasing flow of film adaptations testify. Yet
while his status as “The Most Brilliant Sci-Fi Mind on Any Planet”
(Paul Williams) is rarely questioned, scholarly criticism of Dick has not
kept pace with recent developments in academia – from transnationalism
to adaptation studies, from the cultural turn in historiography to the
material turn in the humanities. Too often Dick remains shrouded in
clichés and myth. Indeed, rarely since the seminal contributions of
Fredric Jameson and Darko Suvin have our engagements with Dick proved
equal to the complexity of his writing – an oeuvre indebted to the pulps
and Goethe, Greek philosophy and the Beats – that calls for renewed
attempts at a history of popular culture. The aim of this conference is to
contribute to such an undertaking. At a time when mass protest against
irrational economic, political and cultural orders is once again erupting
around the world, the Dortmund conference will return to one of the major
figures of the long American Sixties: to an author whose prophetic
analyses of biopolitical capitalism and the neo-authorian surveillance
state remain as pertinent as they were 30 years ago. Confirmed keynote
speakers: Marc Bould (University of the West of England, Bristol), Roger
Luckhurst (Birbeck, University of London) and Norman Spinrad (New
York/Paris). Possible topics for panels and papers include but are in no
way limited to: 1. The Realist Novels: What do Dick’s early realist
novels add to our understanding of his work? In what relation do they
stand to late modernist and realist U.S. literature? Can they be
understood as Beat writing? 2. Transnational Approaches: Dick drew on
various European and non-European cultures, and his SF worlds are highly
transnational in their hybridity: What cultural transfers and
transformations are evident in his work? 3. Dick’s Global Reception:
Dick’s fiction has been widely translated – from Portuguese to
Japanese, from Finnish to Hebrew. Yet we know little about his global
reception. How has Dick’s work been read abroad, and transformed in
translation? What has been his impact on SF outside America? 4. Dick and
the SF Tradition: Critics have rarely engaged in-depth with Dick’s
contribution to SF. What is Dick’s debt to the pulp magazines, to Robert
Heinlein, A. E. van Vogt, or other SF authors? To what extent did Dick
influence his contemporaries, and what does today’s SF owe to him? 5.
Dick and Fandom: Long before his canonization as a literary figure, Dick
was a cult author, and he retains a committed fan base. How has fandom
shaped the way we read him? What role does Dick play in SF cultures of
fandom today? 6. Narrative Structures and Aesthetics: Dick’s short
fiction and novels are linked by common motifs, tropes and fictional
devices. How do they shape his writing? His status as a popular writer has
also meant that the aesthetic dimension of Dick’s fiction has often been
neglected. How can it help us understand his work? 7. Dick and Mainstream
Literature: Dick’s impact on ‘serious’ literature has often been
posited but rarely analyzed. What do Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut or
David Foster Wallace owe to Dick? What role have his writings played in
the integration of SF into mainstream literature? 8. Adaptations: What
makes Dick’s writing so attractive to filmmakers? How have these visual
narratives changed our understanding of his work? Should we pay more
attention to adaptations to other media – from opera to computer games?
9. The Letters and Journals: How do Dick’s letters and journals, as well
as interviews with him change our understanding of his fiction? 10. The
Final Novels: Dick’s late novels are gaining increasing attention, but
critical evaluations vary widely. Are they evidence of a spiritual turn in
Dick’s writing? How do they allow us to look at his work of the 1960s
anew? 11. Dick and the Sixties: Recent scholarship drastically has changed
our understanding of the Sixties. Does this necessitate a re-writing of
Dick? What can we learn from the contradictions and achievements that
shaped this era and Dick’s writing? 12. Dick and Global Capitalism: How
do Dick's analyses of global capitalism, mediatized politics and
individualized consumer culture correspond to our own present? Please send
an abstract of no more than 500 words and a short biographical sketch to
Stefan.Schlensag@udo.edu before 29 February 2012. Presenters will be asked
to submit a full version of their 20-minute presentation by 31 August, and
an electronic reader will be distributed before the conference to all
participants. A selection of the papers given at the conference will be
published in book form. Conference Organizers: Walter Grünzweig, Randi
Gunzenhäuser, Sybille Klemm, Stefan Schlensag, Florian Siedlarek, (TU
Dortmund University); Alexander Dunst (University of Potsdam) and Damian
Podleśny (Katowice) Conference Director and Contact: Stefan Schlensag
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik TU Dortmund University
Emil-Figge-Straße 50 D-44227 Dortmund, Germany Stefan.Schlensag@udo.edu

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